Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Death:
naked in the windless void
all your veils are gone
Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Death:
naked in the windless void
all your veils are gone
Back on September 13th, we played a game called Round Robin Storytelling on this blog. In case you missed it, here’s how this works: someone starts a story, tells for a while, then stops at a critical juncture. Then another person who has been listening, takes up the story until they too stop at a critical juncture. This continues until someone brings the story to a close.
A blog is a good way to play Round Robin Storytelling. I’ll start a story and I’ll leave off in a critical point. If you want to play, go ahead and pick up the story and write (in the comments) what happens next – just a paragraph or two, no more. Then stop. Then either I or another reader of this blog will add their piece of the story, and stop. Then another person, or I, will continue. Hopefully. If no one comments, then I guess I’ll have to finish the story myself.
Now, this story is actually one I’ve already written all the way through, but that doesn’t mean this story must be this way. Other ways are possible, maybe even desirable. Want to play? Here is the beginning of a story called “Old Trout.”
Long ago, or maybe only yesterday, there was a young woman who wanted to know everything. She read thousands of books. She took thousands of classes. She listened to thousands of wise men and women, and asked thousands of questions. Still, no matter how much she knew, there was always more to know.
One day after she had been studying for a long time, she went for a walk to freshen her head. Her walk took her along the banks of a wild and twisty river. The river pushed and shoved and whirled and churned, making its way over rocks and fallen logs. It sang and whispered and whistled and slurped. It threw up cold spray that dampened her legs and splattered on her face. Soon her head was very fresh indeed, eager to know more new things.
She turned to go back to her studies, and just then an enormous Rainbow Trout jumped out of the river in a flashing, graceful arc. He was as long as a dolphin, plump and juicy, and his sides glistened with a rainbow glaze, pink and green and silver. He smoothly entered the river again and swam to where the young woman stood watching, her attention caught by his size and beauty. He shimmered in the shallows near the bank, his top fin making giant ripples on the surface of the river. She could see his face through the clear water. His unblinking eyes were fixed upon hers.
Now what happens? What new things does the young woman learn in this story? Does the Trout teach her, and how does he do it? Leave a comment below and tell us the next part of the story …
Samhain, better known as Halloween, celebrates the earth’s time to rest in darkness. The last harvest has been gathered. The days grow dark and the nights grow long. This is a time of trust: we believe that the light will come again. We know that death is part of life, just another turn of the wheel.
Samhain is when we let go of the old to make way for the new, even before the new has been conceived. It is a time to honor our ancestors, and those who have passed out of this life.
Here are some activities my family and friends and I enjoy on Samhain:
Go on a mushroom walk. Ramble through a wooded place and keep your eyes on the ground. At first you won’t see any mushrooms – they are shy creatures. Then you will spot them, showing up in an amazing variety of shapes and colors, growing under fallen leaves and on rotting logs, bringing color and life to Death. When you see one, squeal, jump up and down, and take its picture. Believe it or not, this is quite exciting.
Samhain is the last of the three harvest holidays. Feast on roots – potatoes, onions, turnips, beets – those hearty vegetables that grow underground in the dark. Make a root soup or root casserole for dinner.
Invite your ancestors, loved ones or heroes from the past into your home. Put photographs or tokens of these honored guests in a place of honor. Give them a plate at dinner. Remember them and talk about them. What were their stories? What were their values, beliefs, passions, loves? What did they contribute to your life? Finally, offer them your heartfelt gratitude. We are all indebted to those who came before.
Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Warmth:
gather round and listen close
winter follows fall
My most vivid memory of the Seattle World’s Fair had little to do with the fair itself. We had been planning to go as a family outing for weeks, and everyone was excited, especially my little brother, who was 5. I was barely 13 and although I adopted a blasé attitude to snub my parents, inside I too wanted to ride on the Monorail, go up in the Space Needle, and ride the roller coaster called The Wild Mouse. I asked my parents if I could take a friend with us, but they said No, not this time, it was a family outing only. This of course was the reason I wanted a friend to go with us; I was in the throes of early adolescence and the last thing I wanted to do was appear as part of my family. So I fear I was rather sulky the day we went.
My parents seemed unfazed by my sulkiness; in fact they tried to be understanding (which made me worse) and when they took my brother off to visit some child’s attraction, they told me I didn’t have to go and could wait for them on a bench by the Space Needle. This suited me just fine, so I sat there and tried to look at least 16.
This must have worked because it wasn’t long before a boy – a young man, really – sat down beside me and struck up a conversation that even I, young as I was, recognized as flirting. I was transported with delight when he asked me if I was out of high school yet. He revealed that he was in his first year of college, which delighted me even more.
We sat there quite a long time, although he tried to get me to go on the Wild Mouse with him. But I was afraid to leave because if my parents came back and found me gone, they might cause all sorts of trouble. It was chilly that day, as early summer can be in Seattle, so when he saw that I was shivering he took off his coat and put it around my shoulders. I knew I was out of my depth but I was so dizzy with excitement that I didn’t care – until I saw my mother walking toward me, and even at a distance I could tell she wasn’t happy about that coat.
He saw her coming too, and must have recognized her mother-ish expression, for at the exact minute she reached us, my new friend magically melted away back into the crowd. It was a sad end to such a promising relationship.
Do you have a memory of a family outing to a famous landmark or tourist attraction? Love to hear about it, if so.
Goody Beagle here. What I want to say today is that beagles have the best tails of all. We have white tips at the ends of our tails, and do you know why? Because we Beagles were bred to be mighty hunters. We have short coats so when we run through the long grass chasing rabbits our hair does not get tangled. And we have a tail that sticks up all the time so that the human hunters on horseback can see our tails above that grass – and to make extra sure they see us, our tails have those beautiful white tips.
Our tails are so beautiful all other dogs are jealous – well, dogs don’t get jealous over stupid things you can’t help, only humans do. So humans who don’t have a beagle are jealous of humans who do. Now maybe you would disagree, especially if you have a Husky with a curly tail or a Pomeranian with a bushy tail, or even a dog with no tail (because you chopped it off, shame on you!)
Well, that’s your privilege, but I’m here to tell you that Beagles have the best tails, and that’s all there is to it. All educated dogs agree.
Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Writing:
or excited, busy, bored
Yes, no matter what
Language itself is an abstraction. The word “tree” does not actually have roots and leaves and rough bark; the word tree is either a sound you make with your breath and your lips, or even more abstractedly, little marks on a piece of paper. Even describing a real, physical object such as a tree can be challenging – an apple tree looks, smells and feels quite different than a fir tree, so you must use specifics, not generalities, if you want your reader to know what your word tree actually means. And if describing a tree is challenging, it is even more so to describe an abstract concept such as justice or compassion in sensory specifics that will ensure your reader feels what you are describing. A good exercise is to take an abstract concept and describe it in actual physical detail – what does justice/compassion/etc look like, smell like, taste like, feel like, sound like?
Here’s what I wrote describing perhaps the ultimate abstract concept – God.
I sing to God, and she whispers back in a voice like cotton, a normal prosaic voice, just folks talkin’, and her voice sounds like my own. I am God and She is Me, so it makes sense that she would speak of homely matters like brushing one’s teeth and raking the leaves and the problems with advising adult children without hopelessly antagonizing them. So God’s voice is nothing special, and yet when she speaks it fills all the air and nothing else is heard anywhere.
What does God smell like? Well, I think God smells like strong things and weak things both, like cold fish on a slab at the fish market, and the first lilac buds of spring, and oh yes, like dirt, the smell that rises from the damp earth of the garden when the worms have been especially active.
God feels like a scratchy broom that pricks your finger and the soft butter feel of suede and the icy numbing pain that stings your legs when you wade in a mountain stream. And the hot humid breath of vines in a tropical jungle, that’s God too.
And God tastes like chocolate, not too sweet and not too bitter, and like macaroni and cheese, thick and gooey, and like fried chicken and hot buttered toast and raspberries fresh from the patch in the back yard.
To see God, you must see it all. The smiles of children and the fiery eyes of frightened warriors and the melted tears of mothers and the blooming of tulips and the big brown maple leaves crumbling on my lawn, and the intricate spider webs made in unlikely places, and the struggling flies dying in those webs.
God is too big to write about even if you use detail so I won’t try any longer, I’d rather write about the poem I wrote today and the sorrow in my friend’s eyes when she told me about her divorce and the sharp sweet taste of lemon ginger tea, and how it comforts me to drink it even while it reminds me of how lonely I am because I cannot really know God.
I have arthritis in my knees. I’ve had it for a long time and I don’t like it, but I’m used to it by now. I work around it. As a ghostwriter, I write as if I’m someone else, so I thought I’d write as my left knee, which is the one that gives me the most trouble. I wonder what my knee would have to say? Here’s what I found out:
Knee: Hi my name is Georgia and I am your left knee.
Kim: Your name is not Georgia, I think you just chose that name because you think it’s cute.
Knee: Well I am cute so it fits, doesn’t it?
Kim: You’re not cute, you’re a cranky bitch who limps all the time.
Knee: I limp because I’m in pain and being upset with those in pain is not productive. Kim: I’m sorry you’re in pain, but why don’t you get better? I’ve tried so many things, all with you in mind, but you don’t seem to like any of them.
Knee: I don’t get better because you still don’t love me. Oh I know you say you do, but secretly you think I’m deficient in cartilage and that you have to compensate for my failings and you wish I was different – younger and slimmer and a different knee entirely.
Kim: No, I want you to be you, just a you without pain.
Knee: But maybe I like my pain, didja ever think about that? I can talk to my pain, and it answers in sharp clear true tones – it always tells the truth and it never pretends to be something it is not, and the stories it tells may be sad, but they’re real. So maybe you should change your attitude toward pain, okay?
My knee is very mouthy.
Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Forest:
a river sings soprano
the wind hums the bass